Anna Voelker is ready to take the stage at the Impact Hub on North Avenue. The Poetry Slam and Open Mic is one of the first events of the Baltimore Pride weekend. The Ohio State student is in Baltimore for an internship this summer is thrilled to take part in Pride.
"It has evolved into this really beautiful celebration of we are here and we matter," she said. "Our lives matter and our identities matter and I think that is so important."
This year marks the 43rd celebration of Baltimore's Gay and Lesbian community.
This year the festival has a new home. After decades in Mount Vernon, Pride has moved to the Old Goucher neighborhood from North Avenue and 25th to Gilford and Howard.
"A lot of the residents and community have moved beyond the gay-borhood of Mt. Vernon. A lot of them are residents in the Old Goucher neighborhood. They welcomed us with open arms," said Kenneth Morrison, executive director of the Gay Lesbian Community Center for Greater Baltimore.
He says the weekend will be filled with activities leading up to the big Parade on Sunday.
They will also reflect on the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. A gunman with an assault rifle opened fire in a popular gay nightclub, killing 49 people.
"There will be some special moments throughout the festival on tomorrow and Sunday where we make sure we pay homage to the victims," Morrison said.
Those who kicked off the weekend Friday night are prepared for celebration of who they are.
"This weekend is an act of solidarity an act of remembrance for those that fought to make this happen as well so this weekend we talk about pride, we're putting that out there and showing that we're proud of ourselves and proud of our community," Rienne Scott said.