Several weeks ago, Christopher Hefty, the facilitator for the Columbia-based Rainbow Youth and Allies (RYA), asked the members how they could help the first ever LGBTQ Pride celebration (HoCo Pride) that will take place in Howard County on June 29. The RYA is a subgroup of the Howard County chapter of PFLAG—an LGBTQ advocacy, educational and support organization.
Beau, a 17 year-old high school student, said the decision was reached that a talent show/fundraiser would be staged on May 28 to raise money for the Pride festival. They named the fundraiser “Gays Got Talent” and publicized it on social media.
The task for bringing in and coordinating the talent for the show was handed to Beau. “I got my friends together and contacted the GSA’s at various local schools to participate,” Beau said. GSA’s are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied students to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities.
A diverse array of students ages 12 to 18 and representing a spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities performed at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center to a standing room only crowd. Many in attendance were friends of the performers or family members.
Prior to the show, Ed, another 17 year-old, was checking out his electric guitar as he and two other friends who form the band Lady of the Lake were readying to open the festivities. “I’m here to rock out and have fun,” Ed said.
Anyone in the audience who thought they may doze off after spending a full day at school or work received a jolting surprise by the three-person alternate rock band whose instruments consist of Ed’s electric guitar, a Kramer Duke electric bass guitar made famous by Eddie Van Halen and others, and a set of drums. Lady of the Lake blasted out three numbers, “More Than They Say,” “Teenage Uprising” and “They Don’t Like It When.”
Ed, who is the group’s lead singer, hopes to pursue music as a career. The band had already played in Baltimore’s Side Bar and Ottobar.
The high volume was lowered a bit when Lauren stylistically sang and played on her guitar a series of ballads including some original songs. One of the selections was not an original; it was her unique interpretation of Britney Spears’ 1998’s “Baby Baby One More Time.”
Lauren said she would love to continue as an artist in the future but doesn’t know how it’s possible because she said she needs to be known.
Other acts followed that included a Shakespeare recital by Gary of The Ghost from “Hamlet;” a Mary Lambert song by Apollo, “She Keeps Me Warm;” a vocal duet from Alex and Flynn performing “Seventeen” from “Heathers” and Abbey Glover’s “I Wish You Liked Girls” with Alex on guitar. The duo then sang The Foundations’ 1968 hit “Build Me Up Buttercup,” a well-performed but unusual selection from such young artists delving that far back in musical lore.
The show concluded with a short story read by Sasha; and a clarinet/saxophone duet by Xavier and Steven, who performed the Main Theme from “Star Wars” by John Williams and “Carnival of Venice by Herbert L. Clarke.
Flynn who teamed up with Alex during the show and played the ukulele, also acted as the show’s co-emcee with Beau. Though Flynn seemed comfortable in front of the audience, the 16 year-old said, “I prefer to perform on social media. I work better without an audience.”
“It was great to see the youth working together and having so much fun,” said RYA facilitator Christopher Hefty who is also on the HoCo Pride Planning Committee where he is the entertainment coordinator among myriad other duties for the event.
“The fundraiser went very well and we raised some money for HoCo Pride. I’m amazed at the talent and passion our future generations have! This event was a success and we look forward to hosting this event next year, only bigger and better!”
HoCo Pride will take place on June 29 from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. at Centennial Park in Ellicott City. For more information visit the event’s website.