The 2016 Baltimore Pride parade, block party and festival are all happening this weekend. It's the culmination of a week-long celebration of the Baltimore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Tavern on the Hill is one of the businesses benefiting from the festival. General Manager Mary Armacost said it's one of their busiest weekends of the year, and it's also one of the most fun.
“We do the best we can to get ready for it, it's going to be really busy, and we want to welcome everybody in,” she said.
Acceptance is a major theme of the festival every year. This year, it’s also about unity. Kevin Holt is the 2016 Baltimore King of Pride. He said the mass shooting back in June at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, is still very much on the minds of the LGBTQ community.
“And each pride it feels like it's more healing for our community as a whole. Just because we weren't in Orlando doesn't mean we didn't feel it here,” said Holt, who is also the outreach coordinator for the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB).
Holt was very much affected by the tragedy. His friend was one of the 49 people murdered. He, along with others, will be taking part in several tributes happening all weekend.
“Just to make sure that Orlando understands that we still stand with them,” Holt said.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also sending that message on the final night of the GOP convention.
"I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me,” Trump said.
It was the first time a GOP presidential nominee included the LGBTQ community in a speech in a positive way, however, Holt is still skeptical.
“When Orlando happened you didn't really say anything then, which you had a chance. Everybody else did, you didn't say anything. Why didn’t you?” Holt said.
He added that Trump's comments have been a topic of conversation with his friends, but that this weekend will be about more than politics.
“You should come to a Pride no matter if you are an ally, you're bisexual, gay, straight, Latino, whatever race, you should come just to have fun. That’s what Pride is,” he said.
The parade is Saturday at 2 p.m. on Charles Street. The block party follows starting at 3 p.m. through 10 p.m. And Sunday, the festival takes place in Druid Hill Park starting at 10 a.m.
Baltimore Police told ABC2 News that they have safety plans in place. “Of course, with recent events, there is an expectation of heightened sense of security, something that we are of and will provide,” said Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith in a statement. Following the tragedy in Orlando, the BPD also reached out to the LGBTQ community about providing security checks for any local businesses.
For the full line-up of Pride events, click here.