The second annual Delmarva Pride Festival opens Friday night at Easton’s Avalon Theater. The Pride Drag Show features six queens who will strut their stuff on the Art Deco stage one at a time before mingling with the audience seated at 22 cafe tables.
But with those heels, they’ll probably just wave to acknowledge applause from the balcony.
Queen of queens Miranda Bryant plays host for a two-hour pageant that also showcases Vicky Fischer, Kedra Lattimore, Kandi Pop, Brie Daniels, and Tania Lashay, the 2022 Miss Pride of Salisbury – all performing to recorded dance music.
Delmarva Pride chair Kyle O’Donnell advises attendees to “bring your dollar bills.” Your tips will serve as support for your favorite queen of the night. As for ticket sales, O’Donnell says that “100 percent goes to support the work of Delmarva Pride Center,” which includes monthly socials “to encourage people to come out and feel a sense of belonging and community in public.” Coming up in July is a pool party, bowling in August, and a nature hike in September.
The Pride Festival continues Saturday with a Harrison Street fair from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., including main-stage entertainment hosted by MC Ryan featuring headliner Danah Denice along with The Sagacious Traveler, Madisun Bailey, Cameron Mae & Danny Alvarez, plus drag show reprises from the night before as well as new acts. And there’s an art show as well.
More than 100 vendors have signed up to sell their wares and wearables, as well as food trucks and beverage stands, and, of course, people from Delmarva Pride to tell you everything you need to know about their work and what they’re about.
“We offer the Mid-Shore, Upper Shore LGBTQ community a safe space to be themselves,” says Tina Jones, a Wittman native and secretary/treasurer of Delmarva Pride.
“It goes back to visibility,” says Concetta Gibson, co-chair of Delmarva Pride. “Our center, what we do, makes it easier for us to find each other.”
“It’s about freedom to be yourself and having support to help keep your head up,” Ivan Colon says, adding that being a gay Latino can “reduce your earning power.”
Citing “intersectionality” – having more than one or two strikes against you in the eyes of those who hate people who are not like them – Jones, a white trans woman, says, “A black, trans woman is 14 times more likely to commit suicide.” Besides discrimination and violence against them, the trans community and others in the LGBTQ alphabet face legislative attacks, too. “More than 500 laws have been introduced in this country to make it more difficult for them to live their lives. Some of these laws mean that they can even take your kids away from you.”
Still, Jones feels lucky, she says, because “I came out later in life.” Now 56, Jones had a successful career that gave her the strength to keep her head up in the face of people who think that her transition is – somehow – any of their business.
But when she did come out, Jones says, “I ripped the doors off the closet.”
The Pride Festival winds up on Sunday morning, ten a.m.-noon, with a Pride Brunch at ArtBar 2.0 in downtown Cambridge.
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts writer and editor now living in Easton.
DELMARVA PRIDE FESTIVAL
Friday, June 16-Sunday, June 18, in Easton and Cambridge, delmarvapridecenter.com