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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Monday, August 31, 2015

10 Questions for GLCCB President Jabari Lyles

Jabari Lyles is a teacher, the outreach specialist at FreeState legal Project and co-chair and education manager at GLSEN-Baltimore.  Busy as he is, he has recently taken on an additional role: President of the Board of D
Jabari Lyles   Photo: Bob Ford
irectors for the Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB).
In doing so, Lyles becomes the fourth person to hold that position in the last 10 months.  He graciously agreed to be interviewed so that the community would be more acquainted with him and to allow him to address the rate of turnover at the GLCCB, the center’s purpose, its finances as well his vision for the center.

Steve Charing: What motivated you to join the GLCCB board and ultimately agree to be its president?
Jabari Lyles: I joined the GLCCB Board to work towards reifying its potential. After working in the local nonprofit and LGBTQ advocacy scene for some time, I became curious as to why, besides Pride, the GLCCB seemed nonexistent and hidden. It was particularly confusing, as a young, black, gay person in Baltimore, that I didn’t feel a connection to this center. I certainly knew this absence was not for lack of need.

Eventually, I learned about parts of the center’s history, the community concern it generated, and perhaps the reason why the GLCCB seemed to exist in the shadows. Instead of continuing to condemn the organization, I saw an opportunity to make change from within. To me, continuing to neglect the center was continuing to neglect the people it could represent. I decided to apply to join the Board, with a specific focus on the GLCCB’s transparency and inclusion, work with people of color, youth, and the transgender community.
I immediately took an active role on the board and became heavily involved in the center’s operations and direction. I became impassioned with the idea of a community center that is truly community held, community-serving and community-building—supported by an organization that has the trust and buy-in from the people we serve. To me, this is what a community center should always be. I agreed to be Board President because I believe in what the GLCCB can be, I believe in my community, and I believe that I can lead with hope, love, knowledge and courage.

SC: You have been working with several successful non-profits, such as GLSEN and FreeState Legal.  What has been your experience at these organizations that you can bring to the GLCCB?
JL: I have worked with GLSEN Baltimore for nearly 10 years now, and for several years under the tutelage of the late, great Kay Halle, longtime social justice advocate and community servant. There was a bit of love in everything that she did, and though small in stature, she was a force to be reckoned with. Although I am quite large, those who know me would agree that I approach my work with a nice balance of tenderness and intensity.

GLSEN is a fantastic organization that continues to show me the importance and impact of investing in young people, speaking up for the victimized, and refusing to negotiate safety and respect for all people. FreeState expanded my understanding of LGBTQ issues and encouraged a more intersectional approach to my work. From my work with FreeState, I learned how race, gender, class, all come into play as one navigates systems: education, legal, or health care. Both organizations are well run, consistent, and have a high sense of integrity and accountability to the community. All decisions are tied to the mission. Routines and expectations are firmly in place. I will bring all of these things, my approach and experiences to my work at the GLCCB.
SC: What do you see as your number one priority and why?

JL: My number one priority is identifying appropriate, reliable and stable leadership at all levels. Effective leadership will add value and credibility to our organization, has been sorely needed, and will begin the process of mending the GLCCB’s relationship with the community. This includes assembling a dynamic and well-resourced board that reflects the diversity of our community, hiring an Executive Director who has strong executive chops with an authentic understanding of the needs and interests of the entire community, and reviving a Community Advisory Board to look to the people we serve for direction.
SC: Over the course of the past 16 months there have been 4 different executive directors or interim directors serving in that capacity and 4 board presidents since November.  How can you reduce the frequent turnover and create stability and thus, generate more confidence in the GLCCB?

JL: We need to be much better at setting our leaders up for success so they are best poised to lead. That looks like: proper on-boarding and orientation, a reliable directory of resources, and open communication between board and staff leaders.  I feel the first step is stepping back and clarifying and perhaps recalibrating our mission and purpose. It’s time for us to reboot.
The GLCCB is due to ask itself: Why are we here and what do we do? Who do we serve? How do we serve? We will surely find stability in this renewed sense of purpose. What will be most important is how we listen to the community to answer these questions. At this critical junction in the center’s history, we are presented with an opportunity to recreate our organization in the community’s image.

My job will be to unify the right group of people who identify strongly with this mission who will realign and recommit, and who will move forward together with passion and cohesion. As your current President, I don’t intend on going anywhere so long as the people I serve will have me. I have a hands-on, bear-through-the-storm approach to this position; I don’t scare easily, and have advised a similar approach to my fellow board members.
SC: The GLCCB has often been criticized for virtually disappearing once Pride is over.  What can you and the board do to change that reputation?  In other words, please explain how the GLCCB can serve the community year round.

JL:  Honestly, before joining the board, I was probably one of those community members that wondered what the GLCCB did when Pride wasn’t happening. I now know of the many amazing, wonderful services and opportunities that the GLCCB offers year round, that many people take advantage of, but are not well-known by the community.
One of our longest running and most well-attended groups, Sistas of Pride (formerly Women of Color), meets nearly weekly. Mixed Company, another regularly well-attended group for LGBTQ young adults, provides weekly educational and networking opportunities. During this past summer, we hosted 20 Youth Works hires who developed their very own homelessness support program called Helping Hands, which attracts regular patrons. We are hoping to expand our programs and outreach strategies to better support the community’s needs and to keep the community better informed. For more information on current programming, visit www.glccb.org/programs. 

SC: During the past few years board members have assumed more of an oversight role rather than rolling up their sleeves to help in the operations of the center.  Will you encourage a more hands-on role for the board?
JL: Taking into account how much work has yet to be done, we simply cannot have it any other way. Willingness to get hands dirty is a requirement to join this board, and I’ve mentioned this during each interview with every new board member. We are certainly a working board in many respects; however, being a working board certainly does not absolve us of our governing duties.

Strategic delegation of tasks is how we will ensure strong action as a governing body, such as hiring a new executive director, and ways we act as individual working members, such as staffing an event. It is also important to note that I expect the duties and expectations of board members to vary as the needs of the organization change.
SC: Money problems continue to beset the Center.  What do you see as the best strategy to put the GLCCB on a better financial footing?

JL: The money problems that beset the Center are multifaceted, are the result of missteps of many people, and thus require a multifaceted, multi-person solution. We must strengthen our financial oversight. This includes taking a concentrated look at who spends, how much is spent and why, and, how records are kept. We must (re)establish the Finance and Audit committees on our Board, and enlist the help of financial professionals to improve our accounting practices.
We must empower the Board, as chief fundraisers of the organization, to work closely with our development coordinator on a fundraising plan. We must always consider financial decisions ethically, legally, and with the community’s best interests in mind. Most importantly, we must prove ourselves worthy of support from the community if we ever want individual giving to be a thing. 

SC: One of the biggest criticisms of the GLCCB has been its perceived lack of inclusivity of minorities and transgender folks in its governance.  How will you change that perception?
 Lyles addressing crowd at Pride  Photo:Bob Ford
JL: This entire year, I have observed the GLCCB making strides towards becoming an organization that authentically represents people of color mostly in its programming and outreach decisions. We will continue to move in this direction. As an outspoken, strong ally of the transgender community, I will say that the we have a bit more work to do on trans* inclusivity and representation.
As current chair of the Programs and Outreach committee, I plan to work diligently on how the center works with and for these communities. I am specifically interested in transgender representation on our Board and staff and investigating how we can work with existing trans-focused organizations, such as Sistas of the T, Baltimore Trans Alliance, and Black Trans Men, Inc.

SC: As the first African-American in decades to hold the position of GLCCB board president, how will you go about trying to improve race relations within the LGBT community?
JL: I firmly believe that my status as an African-American Board President offers nothing different or extra to improve race relations within the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ racists will not learn or believe anything different by this positioning, I cannot tell them anything that hasn’t already been said, and in the end it will be up to them to work towards changing their damaging mindsets.

Minorities in positions of leadership do not an anti-racist society make. President Obama is ending his second term in office, yet black churches are being targeted by terrorists and unarmed black people are being killed by police. What I will do, as a Board President that condemns racism and approaches all work with a social justice lens, is lead this organization in a direction that visibly recognizes and works against racism in all its forms, intentionally works to uplift those who are most marginalized, encourages and eventually leads conversations about oppression, intersectionality, and authentically serving communities of color.
SC: What would you like the community to know about Jabari Lyles?

JL: I am a passionate public servant who finds true happiness and endless energy in working for positive change. I have over ten years of combined experience as an educator, program manager, outreach specialist, and LGBTQ activist. My interests include STEM education, urban education, queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, and educational technology.
I am a proud Maryland native, and I currently live in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City. When I’m not working, I’m usually cooking, dancing, or spending time with those I love. I am outgoing, extroverted and approachable. I believe in my city, my community, and the great things that come out of working together. I am excited to work and grow with the GLCCB.

Monday, August 24, 2015

'LGBT Baltimore' Chronicles City’s LGBT History

Browsing through the new pictorial history book, LGBT Baltimore, just released on August 17 you will see a float from a 1990 Pride parade.  You will notice a black and white shot of the Names Project Quilt on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1988.  And there is a color photo of Harvey Schwartz, the Community Center’s first executive director and a founder of the Center’s Chase Street building, sitting behind his desk on the phone.  These and 150 other images are contained in this chronicle of LGBT history in Baltimore spanning five decades. 

Long time LGBT activist Louise Parker Kelley authored the soft cover, 96-page book that contains photos and captions depicting the fight for LGBT rights and showcases those who stood on the frontlines.  Arcadia Publishing, which has produced LGBT pictorial histories in such cities as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco, published the Baltimore installment.
The images for LGBT Baltimore were donated by individuals or organizations or were selected from the archives of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) that are currently housed at the University of Baltimore.

For those of us who have lived through part or all of the history of the struggle for LGBT equality in Baltimore during this period will wax nostalgic at these photos and recall some of the local leaders who led the fight. Among the heroes pictured besides Schwartz are Elliott Brager, Lynda Dee, Ann Gordon, Jim Becker, Mardie Walker and Steve Shavitz. 
Scenes of Pride parades and celebrations from yesteryear are dotted throughout.  Photographs from venues like the 31st Street Bookstore, which was a feminist business that became popular with Baltimore’s lesbian community, played a key role in our culture and movement and are exhibited in the book.

Sad recollections of the AIDS epidemic are also represented in various ways, but images portraying the community’s response to the crisis are inspirational.  A poignant shot of marchers carrying a PFLAG-Baltimore banner is a gloomy reminder that such a chapter no longer exists in a city that sorely is in need of one.
There are uplifting photographs that record our long-fought triumphs, such as those images that illustrate the tireless efforts to get a non-discrimination bill through Baltimore’s oft-resistant city council as well as the photograph of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake with the two men whose nuptials she officiated, thus becoming the first same-sex couple to marry legally in Maryland.

LGBT Baltimore may not be a perfect telling of the story, but history, as we know, is imperfect, and the book does have its flaws.  The frenetic three-page Introduction did not start off well as the author uses the term “transgendered” instead of “transgender,” in the first line, which is considered by many in the community as inappropriate terminology.  The error is repeated in several other places in the book. 

That same Introduction is too crammed with text in minuscule print rather than allowing the photos themselves to capture the history.  The Introduction should merely contain a high-level summary of what to expect inside.
While LGBT Baltimore is divided into four sections, there is a lack of flow and bridging from one to the next.  If a chronology of events should form the basis for these sections, then photos from 1992 and 1994 should not be mixed in with more recent shots in the final section, “Gaily Forward.”

Moreover, and this is a quibble with the publisher’s design team, the olive green background for the cover does not scream out “LGBT Baltimore!”  It is more akin to an old Army manual.  Something loud, something gay, something lavender would have been more fitting and more eye-catching.
On the positive side, the author Louise Parker Kelley, perhaps better suited to handle this project than most as she had been a warrior through much of the period covered in the book, worked indefatigably to compile as many representative photos as she could.  A good number of the samples had their origins before digital cameras with high resolutions, yet the quality was surprisingly good. 

LGBT Baltimore provides an excellent means to revisit the highs and lows of the city’s culture and battles through the years.  And if you are a younger person, it’s a good opportunity to explore the last few decades through photographs that shaped the current era.

LGBT Baltimore by Louise Parker Kelley, $22.99, 96 pages/soft cover, Arcadia Publishing.  Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing and The History Press or call 888-313-2665.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Trump Card: Who Wins the Hand?

Pity those poor clowns in the GOP clown car who think they can be president of the United States.  They run around the country kissing the asses of fat cat donors. They suck up to their bigoted, misogynous, and homophobic gun-toting, Bible-thumping party base.  They raise tons of money through unfettered PACs and super PACS and super-duper PACs.  They attempt to speak to “ordinary” folks at the Iowa State Fair amid the stench of cow dung and the acrid aroma of fried foods encased in even more fried batter.  #hocopolitics

They go through all of this but why aren’t they gaining any traction?  Why are they mired in single digits like they are up to their necks in Iowa hog waste?
The answer my friends is blowing in the wind.  And that wind is Donald Trump.

Homophobe Mike Huckabee, who knows what to do with an Iowa Fair corn dog when he sees one, is flummoxed. Trump, according to the former governor of Arkansas, is receiving “10 times the media attention” so no wonder Trump is leading in the polls.  Huckabee claims if he enjoyed that amount of attention, he’d be winning.  Right.
It is true that Trump is ahead of this sorry pack based on the latest polling and by a wide margin.  Four years ago Herman “9-9-9” Cain was a Republican frontrunner as was Michelle Bachman at one time before they both flamed out as their idiocy caught up with them.  Will it be different in this cycle? 

“Teflon Donald” has been able to insult Mexicans, John McCain’s war service, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and women in general in short order with relative impunity; his polling numbers remain stout.  The GOP pack won’t stand up to him (other than tepid appeals for him to change his tone) lest the Donald reaches from his vast arsenal of insults and fires verbal slingshots at them, which is more than the Democrats are willing to do. 
The Dems are gleefully sitting on the sidelines enjoying the spectacle that is Donald Trump and hoping that Trump-mania will diminish (if that’s possible) the other GOP contenders and deflect attention away from their own flawed frontrunner.

It’s not the correct approach.  Rather than passively avoiding the fray and hoping upon hope that Trump stays in the race to injure the eventual nominee, Democratic strategists should have been seizing on this gift-wrapped opportunity and swing into attack mode—a tactic that’s not natural to them.
With every Trump gaffe, rather than condemning the self-centered showman, Dems need to put out releases that say, “Trump is only saying what the rest of the Republican hopefuls are thinking but don’t have the courage to say for themselves.”  This is not a stretch; few GOP candidates respond to Trump on the substance of his comments, only to the manner in which he states them.

It is a win-win strategy for Democrats.  Either the electorate will tie Trump and his bluster to the GOP field if the Dems keep taunting or his antics will force the other contenders to confront Trump and risk the verbal equivalent of a nuclear war.  On the other hand, his outrageous comments can make the other candidates seem less extreme and more adult by comparison, which is a risk for Democrats.
Of course, as long as Trump stays in the race he will cause trouble for the other candidates.  He has commanded most of the attention without question and attention is like catnip to a guy like Trump.  He’s already proven that he can say just about anything and get away with it.  Though his policy positions have been scant so far, they’re likely to mirror those of the rest of the field whose differences aren’t dramatic.  

Trump’s distinction is that he and only he can get the job done and “Make America Great Again.”  It’s about him as the savior, not his particular positions on issues that should matter.
One good thing about Trump is that he is not a demagogue on social issues like most of the other GOP hopefuls.  His pro-life position had evolved to meet the requirements of the GOP but he is unconvincing.  While he is for “traditional marriage,” he doesn’t offer anti-gay diatribes as most of his fellow contenders do.  One reason for his relative silence on the topic is that he cannot come up with a good answer to the question, how do your three marriages represent traditional marriage?

He also said on Meet the Press on August 16 that being gay should not be a reason to fire employees of private companies.  Only Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and George Pataki of the other Republican candidates share that view.
How long can or will Trump remain in the race is the billion dollar question.  As long as he’s riding high in the polls, he is not going anywhere.  A significant dip may cause him to pull out, but that doesn’t seem likely now.  Such decisions will have to wait for the primaries and caucuses to get underway in the winter.  That will be a better measuring stick than current polling.

He has threatened to run as an independent should he be treated as badly by the GOP.  That is unlikely because of the need to gather so many signatures in all 50 states and the added costs of doing so.
Right now, he is riding the wave of voter anger and people are backing him no matter how absurd his comments and unrealistic his positions are.  They like people who call our elected officials “stupid”  and will keep him rolling along, so he remains a nightmare for establishment Republicans.

The longer the disarray, the better it is for the Democrats.  The Trump card will help them win the hand…for now.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Good 'Catch' at Beth Tfiloh Community Theatre

I must admit that when I first saw the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, the last thing I suspected was that this crime drama would ever be made into a Broadway musical.  Yet in 2011, with a book by Terrence McNally and a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, a musical, indeed, opened at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre.  Oh, by the way, it garnered four Tony Award nominations, winning one for Best Actor. 

Josh Schoff (L.) and Noah Broth in the lead roles Photo: Rina Goloskov
For an all-too-brief run at Beth Tfiloh’s Rosen Arts Center, the musical Catch Me If You Can scores high marks under the polished direction of Diane M. Smith.  Based largely on the mega-hit film, which, in turn, was based on the biography of Frank Abagnale, Jr., the true story centers on a New Rochelle, NY teenager (Abagnale) in the 1960s who left home and made millions of dollars by being a con artist, check forger and counterfeiter, assuming a slew of identities and professions throughout his worldwide journey before being finally caught by the dogged FBI agent Carl Hanratty.
The eyebrow-raising ruses that young Abagnale is able to pull off (airline pilot, lawyer, doctor, a Lutheran, etc. without ever finishing high school), his tender relationship with his father, his falling in love with Brenda, and his lucky near-miss evasions from the relentless Hanratty provide the essence of the plot.  #hocoarts

Noah Broth as Frank Jr. demonstrates a tremendous amount of poise for a 16 year-old performer.  His vocals are quite strong and on key in meeting the challenges of some difficult songs, such as the group opening number “Live in Living Color,” “Seven Wonders,” and especially “Goodbye.” 
Mr. Broth moves with agility and finesse around the stage in several dance routines, and his acting skills are showcased throughout.  The Abagnale character must exude confidence, swagger and charm to pull off his con games, and Mr. Broth, through facial expressions, voice inflections and body language, plays the role to the hilt.

Also performing with great skill is Josh Schoff as the determined and oft-frustrated agent Carl Hanratty.  At times intense and commanding but on other occasions allowing glimpses into Hanratty’s vulnerabilities, Mr. Schoff superbly handles the complexities of the role and does so with a bit of campiness and flair.  His powerful singing voice shines particularly in “The Man Inside the Clues.”  
Both of these young performers play off each other well in the production and both have promising futures in theatre if that’s the path they choose.

Photo: Steve Isack
Veteran Beth Tfiloh Theatre actor F. Scott Black is another outstanding addition to the cast as the elder Abagnale.  Having lost his store leading to financial hardship, refusing help from his newly “successful” son, being under pressure from the IRS, enduring the indignity of his wife leaving him, and ultimately driving himself to drink leading to his tragic demise, Frank Sr. is the character we have compassion for, and Mr. Black’s portrayal of him is robust.
Nicole Smith as Brenda Strong, a nurse whom young Frank met while pretending to be a doctor, does a fine job in her role.  Brenda lacked confidence until Frank instilled it in her.  They fell in love, planned to marry and have a family until her love got caught by Hanratty. Ms. Smith’s solo, “Fly, Fly Away,” highlights her sparkling singing voice.

As Brenda’s parents, Amanda Dickson and Carl Oppenheim provide the most laughs in the show as Brenda brings Frank home to New Orleans to meet them in a truly fun scene.
There are over a two dozen members of the company who ably support the leads with singing and dancing with many playing multiple roles.  The aforementioned Nicole Smith and Amanda Dickson along with Sharon Byrd coordinated the spot-on costumes that ranged from everyday wear to production number costumes for nurses, doctors, flight attendants and pilots uniforms.  Ms. Dickson also choreographed the well-executed dance routines.

Chris Rose leads an outstanding eight-piece orchestra whose rich sounds emanated from a multi-level platform on the stage cleverly designed by Evan Margolis.  Most of the action takes place in front of this platform bringing the performers closer to the audience.  But some performances take place on a platform between the orchestra sections, which change the eye-level and add depth to the staging.
In addition, Avi Goldman’s lighting design and Director Diane Smith’s sound design provide strong technical support to the overall production.

As a community theatre production, Beth Tfiloh’s presentation of Catch Me If You Can deserves high praise for its direction, performances and technical elements.  The problem is that it only runs for two more performances so you should definitely catch it while you can.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.

Catch Me If You Can plays August 18 and 20 at the Mintzes Theatre/Rosen Arts Center located at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, 3300 Old Court Rd., Pikeville, MD 21208.  Tickets are $15 and can be reserved by calling the Beth Tfiloh Arts Department at 410- 413-2436 or online.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Summer Winds of Change are Blowing

No one can say this has been hum-drum summer in LGBT Baltimore.  Huge victories, such as the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriages throughout the nation and the Boy Scouts of America officials voting to allow gay leaders grabbed the headlines.  This progress, unthinkable just a few years ago, were reasons to celebrate.
Taking it to the streets  Photo: Brian Gaither

Locally, other developments have taken place or occurring during the summer that are changing the LGBT landscape. This began prior to the summer when the iconic Hippo stunned the community by announcing its closing later this year after more than four decades of being a major LGBT institution in the city.

Another institution, Equality Maryland—a 25 year-old statewide civil rights advocacy organization that started out as Free State Justice—disclosed in June that financial difficulties stemming from declining revenues following the  passage of same-sex marriage among other factors led to the laying off of its executive director Carrie Evans. 

They recently vacated their Sharp Street offices to reduce overhead and gave away office furniture, old lawn signs from the marriage battles, and other such memorabilia.  On August 2, a new transitional board was established and decided the organization will remain open for the time being but with a scaled down operation.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) is constantly in a state of flux so that any changes this summer are almost to be expected.  The GLCCB is experiencing a staggering amount of turnover in their Board of Directors and at the executive director position.  Since December four individuals have served as the Board’s president, and in less than a year and a half, four have held the executive director or interim executive director’s post.

To be fair, other local organizations have also experienced changes in leadership or in key personnel this summer.  Examples include Hearts & Ears, Moveable Feast and Iron Crow Theatre.  In the spring FreeState Legal hired its new executive director Patrick Paschall.

A major departure from the norm, however, was the recent GLCCB-led Pride celebration that took place in July rather than its customary June spot during Father’s Day weekend.  Schedule conflicts with the city forced the dates to July 25-26, and it worked out well overall.  The separation from other area Pride festivities allowed the Center to increase its sponsorships and more importantly, it provided greater opportunities for potential Pride-goers from out of town to visit Baltimore instead of having to make choices during June’s congested Pride calendar.   

The two-day event in Baltimore drew sizable crowds and in theory should have provided critical revenue to the financially wobbly GLCCB.  For these reasons, if the GLCCB continues to operate Pride in the future, keeping it in July should be seriously considered.

An additional change during the summer has been a renewed brand of activism that is by-passing conventional models and is instead taking it to the streets.  This is significant in that it is not a seasonal event but potentially the beginning of a larger movement. 
#BaltimoreTRANSUPrising marching at Pride  Photo: Bob Ford
Inspired by the protests under the banner #BlackLivesMatter that followed a spate of police-involved killings of unarmed African-American men including Freddie Gray in Baltimore, transgender advocates banded together and formed a #BaltimoreTRANSUPrising movement to air a list of grievances. 

Much of their disquiet centers on police relations with transgender individuals and unsolved murders of transgender victims.  Other issues include homelessness among transgender people, better access to health care in general as well as trans-specific health care, and other forms of discrimination, particularly towards transgender people of color. Many trans folks believe that they have been ignored during the fight for marriage equality and their concerns have been brushed aside.  Now it’s time, they feel, to raise their voices and be heard.

One day before Pride, around a hundred vocal demonstrators marched through the streets of Old Goucher—an area where many transgender women have been harassed or harmed.  They ended up at Washington Monument Plaza for a rally whereby a series of demands were announced.
"...potentially the beginning of a larger movement"

The amount of individuals participating in the movement and the support it is receiving from the broader community could signal a new dynamic in the quest for overall equality.  Perhaps as a way to recognize this cause, Pride officials agreed that a contingent from the #BaltimoreTRANSUPrising group lead off all marchers in the Pride parade.  This is a rare phenomenon in recent Baltimore Pride events in that increased focus was given to a political initiative, and it’s welcome.

As older, established organizations are becoming less relevant today to a younger group of impatient activists, a new wave of leaders are emerging to try to create visibility and support to help reach the goal of equality for all. 
This may be the most significant result of a summer whose winds of change are blowing through the streets of Baltimore.