To help celebrate Pride Month, I set out to learn more about Greenbelt’s very own Pride group, with its locally-appropriate spelling: GreenBeLT Pride.
In the beginning. Frank DeBernardo told me that he noticed rainbow stickers and other friendly indicators around town, but in his first year here he wasn’t meeting other LGBT people. So in 2005 he put out a call for a get-together to celebrate Pride month, and was thrilled when 15 people showed up. Then and there, attendees decided to start an organization, and chose its name and slogan – “You can’t spell Greenbelt without GBLT.” They also planned the first event, this time at the New Deal Cafe, and 75 people came, both LGBT and allies. Ellen Siegel was at the Cafe then and was very welcoming with her special menu item – a guacamole BLT sandwich (GBLT).
Greenbelt Pride has marched in Greenbelt’s Labor Day parade every year except 2013, when members were busy with other commitments, including marching with other groups.
Three years ago when Maryland was gearing up for the marriage equality bill, word got out that an anti-marriage equality group were going to march in the parade. That resulted in over 100 parade-spectators joining the Pride group as it marched by, and lots of applause from supporters along the route.
Greenbelt Pride holds about four big social events a year, one per season. On Sunday June 29, they’re holding a picnic at Buddy Attick Park to celebrate Pride Month. In August there will be a Pool Party at the Greenbelt Aquatic and Fitness Center. Then there are Bay Sox games, board game nights, and the progressive holiday dinner. All family-friendly.
In its early years the group also celebrated quite a few babies with showers, and socializing reflected all the parents in the group. But Frank says that now the group has more nonparents, and this year there are some adult events like theater parties, dinners and a fire bowl party at his house.
Greenbelt Pride also serves the community through community trash pick-ups, clothing drives, and speaking at the local high school.
People. Members communicate via a closed FB group that now has 175 members. Events usually draw 15-20 people, up to 30, and the group includes lots of allies.
I heard from two other Greenbelt Pride board members for this article. Little Dan Celdran, in charge of publicity for the group, wrote:
I’ve got Pride. I attended my first GreenBeLT Pride meeting a few years ago and was asked to join the Board (many of my friends were already a part of this group) and I said “yes”. I especially enjoy planning events that bring people together and I was tickled they accepted me! As an ally and member of the group, I’ve met more people and have tried new activities (e.g. boating). It’s been a great experience for my young son in teaching diversity, tolerance and acceptance of all persons. GreenBeLT Pride has been a fun group to be part of and I’m excited to see it expand. More social events open to the community are planned for this year. I hope you’ll join us!